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Modding Doesn't Make it

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by LikeRaphael, Dec 24, 2012.

  1. LikeRaphael

    LikeRaphael Banned

    Dec 18, 2012
    For me anyway.

    Time and time I've tried and still I don't learn my lesson. It seems like every time I try to make a cheap bass better with better "parts", it just doesn't work.

    My latest venture -- I got a Squier CV jazz, which is actually a very nice bass -- nothing wrong with it all. But I thought putting some nordstands in it would make it KILL, since I love the way they sound.

    The result....?

    It sounded better with the stock pu's.

    There seems to be something inherent to a guitar. You like what it is, or you don't. Mixing and matching doesn't always add up to an improvement.

    I'm not saying changes can't make for a superior instrument. But they always seem to be a gamble -- and one that doesn't work more often than it does.

    Has anyone else experienced this?
  2. PatQ


    May 11, 2011
    Siegburg, Germany
    How many time did you put in adjusting the height of the pickup? That's absolutely crucial and can change the sound dramatically! Take your time and give your ears a rest in between.
  3. LikeRaphael

    LikeRaphael Banned

    Dec 18, 2012

    I know what I'm doing with that stuff. Trust me, it just didn't work the way I'd hoped.
  4. I suspect that what you're experiencing is true quite a lot. I see so many people who think you MUST mod in order to make your bass "superior", even when the bass is still only on order and they haven't even played the bloody thing yet. It seems silly to me, especially those folks who say things like "I like the sound and playability of this bass, but what pickups/tuners/wiring/caps/bridges etc. can I put on to make it really good?" To which I would say "If you like the sound and playability, my recommendation is you change NOTHING." It makes no sense to change out things that are already working for you. Again, and I hate to use this cliche, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it. To me a lot of this seems nothing more than faddishness (is that a word?). Too much is being doen simply because others are doing it and claiming their results are the best thing they could have done to their bass. Not every change will make any significant difference, and even if it does, there's no guarantee one will like the result.
    I can see, for example, if you have a new bass, and you like everything about it except you really don't like the sound of the bridge pickup, swapping it out for a new one, but it makes absolutely no sense if you do like the pickup, yet you swap it out anyway simply because you've been led to believe it will be even better. Too much of this comes across as snake oil to me.
  5. sven kalmar

    sven kalmar

    Apr 29, 2009
    i tend to agree..but then again..its an experience. First thing i did was to put alembicpickups in a 5string squire. Got the very cheap from the shop. It sounded pretty good too. Then i put antiquity2 in a MIM pbass. Its sounded nice with both..
    with the roadworn i havnt changed anything, but i got it with a great setup from some of the best folks.
  6. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Digital Brand Development and Product Development at GHS Strings
    I've modded a number of basses with varying results. None have ever been monumental changes that have been great; at best, small minute ones. Changing a 2-band preamp to a 3-band yielded nothing tonally except a mid control onboard, yet that was what I wanted. And it was a great decision.

    Especially with lower level instruments, modding them with high end parts I've found does more to showcase the limitations over anything else.
  7. To me the only sensible mode are low cost - what's the point of putting $100 pups in a $120 bass? But shielding , changing the nut, etc makes sense.
  8. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    +1. When the mods exceed the cost of the bass, you're better off just buying something you like. If you've gotta put more into it than the cost of the bass new, you've got the wrong bass.
  9. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Yeah, pretty much. There's a lot of "slap some Fralins in it" and it will sound as good as you can get thinking on TB, but, generally, you're right. The wood sounds like it sounds.
  10. FrednBass


    Feb 24, 2012
    You see, that happens because some basses sound better with the stock pu's and others sound better with mod pu's.
  11. Brent Hahn

    Brent Hahn

    Jul 25, 2009
    A long time ago I took a Tele (guitar, not bass) to a tech because it seemed way deader than it should have been. He tossed the hefty, pricy brass bridge and put in a thin, bent-steel OEM one. Problem solved.

    Much later I got an Ibanez Blazer bass with a stock, chunky brass bridge. Same problem as the Tele, and same solution.

    Meaning sometimes a downgrade is an upgrade.
  12. bh2


    Jun 16, 2008
    Oxford, UK
    Ah... to me the stock pups on the CV Jazz are great and mimic the sound of a 60s Jazz perfectly.

    If anything this bass is slightly let down by the hardware.

    I did say slightly.
  13. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Everytime (3) I've put an Audere preamp in an MIM jazz, the improvement was obvious. In one case it was better, but not quite "there", so I swapped out the stock pickups for something I can't remember now (sold the bass years ago) and it was "there".
  14. OUT51D3R


    Feb 1, 2011
    I must mod a bass to make it mine. Until I do, it just feels like somebody else's bass and I don't really connect with it. Often that means an improvement of some sort, other times it's just a sidegrade.
  15. Now that I think about it, I have done at least some small mod to all my basses. I see what you mean.
  16. tabdog


    Feb 9, 2011
    I have been doing upgrades for 30 years.
    I'm an old retired guy who does this as a
    hobby now.

    It is a pleasure to me to take a free/give
    away POS and turn it into a really nice
    bass for $5 to $50 in materials.

    I don't spend lots of money doing it. That
    is a big mistake in my book unless you
    are going for something special for your
    self, or someone else. If you do that just
    for it for the sake of it, you will usually be

    When I started modding, the word didn't
    exist in music circles. If you have not been
    around and not sure of what you're doing,
    sure you're gonna be disappointed.

  17. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    If it was "there", why did you sell it?

    That doesn't make much sense to me.
    Kinda like breaking in a new pair of boots...... as soon as they get comfortable, getting a new pair.
  18. tabdog


    Feb 9, 2011
    The builder of this bass was so disappointed
    that he sold it to me, with a case, for $90.
    It has solid curly maple body, 5 piece neck
    through body and redhart fingerboard.

    I pulled it out of the fire and it didn't cost me
    a penny. It plays and sounds first rate now.




    The case was $120,

  19. I usually leave the bass stock. I replaced the stock pickup on a 50s Squire with the SD version one time. The only difference was my wallet got a bit lighter.

    I have found that, if the frets are level and you can put a good setup on the bass, maybe touch up the nut, maybe install your favorite string set, and adjust the stock electronics correctly, you're usually going to get a great tone.
  20. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    Ive done it (paid a pro to do it) a fair bit with saxophones. In the end it wasn't worth the expense.

    The only experimentation I see myself doing with basses is with strings -- maybe, because I like the way my basses sound right now.